Women's Soccer | Women’s soccer nabs third victory
Published: Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 18:10
As the whistle blew for the end of regulation in its road match again Conn. College on Saturday, the situation seemed all too familiar for the women’s soccer team. In a season defined by bad breaks, this game — the team’s eighth in which they had failed to score in regulation and their third to go to overtime tied 0-0 — was beginning to feel redundant.
But as the team huddled up before the extra period began, there was no sense that the players were getting down on themselves. Only one message was stressed: urgency.
“We tell each other, ‘Let’s not wait 10 minutes. Let’s get this done in the next 30 seconds,’” freshman forward Allie Weiller said. “So we took that out with us on the field.”
Words swiftly turned into action on the pitch, as Weiller received a pass and turned in space. She challenged a defender and managed to free herself up. Seizing her opportunity, she let one fly — and watched as the ball flicked off the tips of the goalie’s outstretched hand. The ball lost most of its momentum but still had just enough to trickle across the line for the decisive goal, earning the Jumbos their first conference win of the season, and thrusting them back into the race for a spot in the NESCAC Championships.
It was an emotional victory for a young Jumbos team that has seen so much heartbreak early in the season.
“That was probably the best feeling I’ve ever experienced playing soccer,” Weiller said. “The whole team ran onto the field, and I felt like I was being suffocated by the hugs and the happiness of every person, including my coaches. We’ve struggled to find wins and find goals, even though we are a good team, so to have that finally pay off for us inspires us to do better.”
The win was well-deserved, following a dominant second half from Tufts. The Jumbos had taken all seven corners and outshot the Camels 7-6. Sophomore Nikki Blank had hit the post, while a shot deflected away by Conn. College keeper Natalie Signor landed in the box but away from the feet of any Tufts players.
“There was definitely frustration,” Weiller said. “Nothing was going in for us. We were there, but we just couldn’t get it into the goal. For that to happen constantly over a period of time begins to eat away at you, but we knew we were so close and that it was going to happen eventually if we kept fighting.”
The first half was more even, with the Camels getting the lion’s share of corners and shots on goal. Tufts junior goalie Kristin Wright was forced into seven saves on the day, but was never truly tested, with most of the attempts coming fairly harmlessly from distance. In the end, she earned her third straight shutout and now has not allowed a goal in 320 minutes.
“We’re feeling really good about [our defensive performance],” Wright said. “It’s always great to come out of a game with a shutout, and even more so when you really don’t have to touch the ball because your defense is taking care of things so well.”
Coming off a three-game unbeaten streak in which they’ve outscored their opponents 5-0, the Jumbos have plenty of momentum heading into their final four regular-season games. But the hill to a spot in the conference tournament gets steeper from here.
After a non-conference game on Tuesday against Endicott, the team travels to league-leading Williams on Saturday. They close out their season with games at home against Hamilton and Bowdoin, currently sitting in fourth and fifth, respectively.
“We are a really good team, and we can hang with any team out there,” Weiller said. “Our record doesn’t show that, but we are much better team than what’s our paper. Our heart’s there, our effort’s there, and it’s now just about focusing and getting the goals.”
Tufts is currently tied for ninth place in the league, and will need to crack the top eight to qualify. That will require getting results in at least two of the three NESCAC matches, undoubtedly a tall task. But the team will be buoyed by its recent success, as well as its play against Amherst, a game that was much closer than its 2-0 final score.
“We definitely can come out strong against them,” said Weiller. “We know how we played against Amherst, and we know that it’s there. There were just a few unfortunate things that happened in that game. A lot of times, the scores that have come out on paper haven’t reflected how we’ve played, so we’re feeling pretty good.”